An increasing number of Republican governors are voicing opposition to the concept of a vaccine passport, as Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) signaled on Tuesday that they, too, will not support such programs in their states.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has remained, perhaps, the most vocal in his opposition to vaccine passports, which, in theory, could require individuals to show proof of vaccination or recent negative coronavirus test in order to enter certain venues or engage in daily activities. The Republican, who has described vaccine passports as “terrible” and “unacceptable,” signed an executive order last week, barring the use of them in the Sunshine State.
“Requiring so-called COVID-19 vaccine passports for taking part in everyday life — such as attending a sporting event, patronizing a restaurant, or going to a movie theater— would create two cases of citizens based on vaccination,” the executive order reads, emphasizing the importance of protecting the “fundamental rights and privacies of Floridians and the free flow of commerce within the state.”
Per the order, “no Florida government entity, or its subdivisions, agents, or assigns, shall be permitted to issue vaccine passports, vaccine passes, or other standardized documentation for the purpose of certifying an individual’s COVID-19 vaccination status to a third party, or otherwise publish or share individuals’ COVID-19 vaccination record or similar health information.”
DeSantis said the state legislature is working to make the protections permanent.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) followed suit on Tuesday with an executive order prohibiting government-mandated vaccine passports in the Lone Star State.
“Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and reveal private health information just to go about their daily lives,” Abbott said.
The order also extends to a public or private entity “that is receiving or will receive public funds through any means from requiring the presentation of vaccination status from consumers before rendering services,” as Breitbart News detailed.
On Tuesday, Georgia Gov. Kemp took a solid position on vaccine passports, vowing he will not support “any kind” of state-mandated vaccine passport.
“While the development of multiple safe, highly effective COVID-19 vaccines has been a scientific miracle, the decision to receive the vaccine should be left up to each individual,” he said:
— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) April 6, 2021
Similarly, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee expressed his opposition to the proposal as well.
“I oppose vaccine passports. The COVID-19 vaccine should be a personal health choice, not a government requirement,” he said, announcing his support of legislation to “prohibit any government-mandated vaccine passports to protect the privacy of Tennesseans’ health information and ensure this vaccine remains a voluntary, personal decision”:
I am supporting legislation to prohibit any government-mandated vaccine passports to protect the privacy of Tennesseans' health information and ensure this vaccine remains a voluntary, personal decision.
— Gov. Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) April 6, 2021
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) said this week his state will “never” mandate a vaccine passport.
“One, it’s all about the privacy of the individual who received the vaccine, who didn’t,” he said during a Wednesday appearance on Fox & Friends.
“Do we really want the federal government to have all that information in its database to be able to use it for whatever reason they might want to use it as time goes forward?” he continued:
We are never going to do that in the state of Missouri. We are never going to have a mandate, a passport, a vaccine passport in this state. You know, if people want to carry a card … that’s fine. That’s called freedom. It’s called individual rights, but it’s not government’s place to do that.
Blue state leaders, however, remain more open to the concept of vaccine passports. New York, for example, has already begun with its rollout of the Excelsior Pass, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said will “play a critical role in getting information to venues and sites in a secure and streamlined way, allowing us to fast-track the reopening of these businesses and getting us one step closer to reaching a new normal.”
While Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) has said a vaccine passport should not be required to enter a venue, he remains favorable to the overall concept.
“As long as it is your choice,” Pritzker said. “If people ask you to show that for a particular venue or private venue, they have the ability and right to do that. You don’t have to show that to them. You don’t have to be to go to that venue or be engaged in that activity.”
While the White House previously indicated it was working with corporations to offer recommendations for the development of vaccine passports, White House press secretary Jen Pskai said on Tuesday the federal government “is not now, nor will we be supporting, a system that requires Americans to carry a credential.”
Fewer than half of likely voters consider a vaccine passport a “good idea,” a Rasmussen Reports survey released April 1 revealed.